Healthy Food Choices and Questionable Decisions

Friday, July 26, 2013 at 4:31 am

The quandary that we all face each day in every aspect of our diet involve the healthy food choices we could choose and questionable decisions that we often make.  Indeed, when we shop, cook and eat we make good and bad decisions.  Our bad decisions are a result of bad habits and lack of understanding of what a good diet is.  Unfortunately our good choices require much more effort, and often times we don’t take the time to do our homework on what food choices are healthy.shutterstock_55708870

What makes Southern foods bad?  Traditionally the bad in Southern foods are the saturated fats in the form of butter, beef and pork fats and shortening  often used when frying foods.  Hydrogentated fats or trans-fats are not as prevalent  in the Southern household as in the past.  Hence, the difference between bad versus good bad is primarily one of saturated versus unsaturated fats. Simply stated for every 1% increase in saturated fat there is a 2% increase in LDL which translates into a 2% increase in Heart Risk ( LDL is low density lipoprotein).  The good part of Southern food is the abundance of fresh vegetables, fruit and poultry.  Therefore, reduce the saturated fats and replace them with unsaturated fats, eliminate a few other bad habits and Southern food can be made to be much healthier.  No problem!

The food memory, Fried Bacon Mornings, is an example of how a food aroma alone can trigger a bad food choice.  The daily crusade with patients and the bad habits of southern cookery with better selections through healthy education did not help me avoid one of my bad habits in the memoir.  The conundrum of food choices between our healthy needs versus our desire is a disquieting dilemma.

A nutritional analysis of Fried Bacon Mornings breakfast selection of orange juice, two biscuits, butter and mayhaw jelly:

456 calories, 6 grams of protein, 60 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of fiber,  22 grams of fat ( 10g saturated and 16g of unsaturated fats ) and 561 mg of sodium.

My preference as a young man would have been orange juice, biscuits, butter, scrambled eggs, grits and bacon.  The nutritional break-down:

834 calories, 31 grams of protein, 84 grams of carbohydrates, 1.5 grams of fiber, 50 grams of fat ( 21g saturated and 26g of unsaturated fats ) and 1577 mg of sodium.

The better alternative ( without offending my host ) should have been orange juice, whole wheat toast with mayhaw jelly without the butter.  The nutritional analysis:

256 calories, 7 grams of protein, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 2 grams of fat ( 0.5g saturated and 1.5g of unsaturated fats ) and 283 mg of sodium.

The best option should have been skim milk, grape nuts flakes and 1/2 of a banana with a nutritional analysis:

246 calories, 12 grams of protein, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 1.5 grams of fat ( 0.2g saturated and 1g unsaturated fats ) and 229 mg of sodium.

The Lyon Diet Heart Study and others have demonstrated through clinical trials the advantage of a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, whole grains, cereals, nuts, olive oils as a primary source of fats and limited red meats and sweets.  The aforementioned better and best options meet these requirements, but on March 14, 2003 my breakfast choice did not.  That morning I chose unwisely, and I did not make the healthy food choice I should have.


de Lorgeril, M. et al., 1999, Mediterranean Diet, Traditional Risk Factors, and the Rate of Cardiovascular Complications after Myocardial Infarction: Final Report of the Lyon Diet Heart Study, Circulation, Volume 99, pp. 779-785.

Menotti, M. et al., 1989, Seven Countries Study, First 20-Year Mortality Data in 12 Cohorts of Seven Countries, Annals of Medicine, Volume 21, pp. 175-179.

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